Wednesday, February 17, 2010

100 Years of Quantum Weirdness

This is actually a rather sensible account of QM and the struggle to deal with the "weirdness" that comes with it. I do have a bit of a disagreement towards the end, though.

So how does culture absorb this fact?

The first wave of reaction appears to have been the New Age movement of the 1960s and 1970s. New Age enthusiasms embraced quantum physics as proof that consciousness was more important than matter and that the world was imbued with spiritual realities of great and grand potential. It seemed very exciting. Unfortunately it was wrong, missing the essential point that quantum mechanics doesn't really "say" anything. It raises questions. It does not answer them. The New Age movement with movies like the infuriating "What the Bleep Do We Know" just inserted its own pictures into a theory that does not allow them.

Good argument against the "What the Bleep..." movie. However, I disagree that QM doesn't really "say" anything, and that it just raised questions. The "description" that QM gives DOES say something. It tells you what to do, where to do, and how to do it. It may not tell you WHY it does it that way, but that's far from saying that it says nothing. Furthermore, the "why" statements are a bit disingenuous. This is because if one examines even classical physics, it also doesn't tell you why. Can someone explains why the classical field works? Why does an electron feels a tug on it when it is in an electrostatic field? Do the Maxwell equations tell you why instead of just how? Why pick on QM only when physics, and science, essentially tells you only the how at the most fundamental level?


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